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Supreme Court Unanimous in Decision to Provide More Educational Opportunities for Students with Disabilities

Washington, March 22 – The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday in favor of higher educational standards for children with a disability in one of the most important education cases in decades.

The case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, argued just how much educational benefit public schools must provide. While some lower courts had ruled the need for a “meaningful” educational benefit, others required only a bit more than de minimis – the bare minimum.

During the hearing, the Supreme Court discussed nine different levels of standards of education. They ruled unanimously (8-0) that schools must do more than provide “merely more than de minimis” education for students with a disability and instead provide them with the opportunity to make “appropriately ambitious” progress.

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Dannel Malloy Links Medicaid, Mental Health and Employment for People with Disabilities

Washington, March 1 – Employment opportunities for people with disabilities are critically linked to other important issues such as Medicaid and mental health support. per Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut.

Malloy said his state his ‘”working hard… to make sure we are expanding opportunities for people with disabilities and differences.”

Addressing a press conference hosted by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) Saturday, on the sidelines of the National Governors Association Winter Meeting, the Democratic governor also talked about the importance “of taking care of people in other ways, including healthcare.”

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Brian Sandoval Speaks with Pride about Jobs for Nevadans with Disabilities

Washington, Feb. 28 – Speaking abut the improving economy of Nevada, Gov. Brian Sandoval said “it has to be an economy that is available to everyone,” especially for Nevadans with disabilities.

Speaking with The RespectAbility Report on the sidelines of the National Governors Association’s Winter Meeting, the Republican governor stressed the importance of disability employment. He highlighted the inclusive hiring efforts being done by Starbucks at their Carson Valley Roasting Plant and Distribution Center in Minden, Nevada. In 2015, Sandoval visited the graduation ceremony for the inaugural class of Starbucks Inclusion Academy graduates. The Inclusion Academy is an “on-the-job training program for people with cognitive and physical disabilities” that prepares them for exciting careers at the global coffee giant’s largest distribution plant. One of the plant’s employees, a Special Olympics athlete named Shawn Stainbrook said that “going to work at Starbucks”…gave him “goals” and taught him to “never give up.”

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Matt Mead on Wyoming’s First in the Nation Standing on Jobs for People with Disabilities

Washington, Feb. 27 – With 57 percent of their citizens with disabilities employed, the state of Wyoming has good reason to be proud. Speaking with The RespectAbility Report at the National Governor’s Association’s Winter Meeting, Gov. Matt Mead credited Wyoming’s “culture and heritage” for why his state has the highest employment rate for people with disabilities of any state in the nation.

Mead says this culture is part of a common desire to “make sure we are doing our best for every one of our citizens.” Mead added that people in his state understand that what is “best for our state” is “giving every citizen an opportunity.”

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Asa Hutchinson Talks about Jobs for People with Disabilities in Arkansas

Washington, Feb. 27 – According to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, jobs matter because “everybody, no matter of a disability or not, has a desire to work, a desire to contribute and to be meaningful in life.”

Speaking at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting, the Republican governor of Arkansas also emphasized the critical impact of employment in terms of “opportunity” and “fulfillment” and the sense of “really contributing something.”

People with disabilities face serious physical, attitudinal and economic barriers to entering the workforce and earning an income. In Arkansas alone, there are 264,777 working-age people with disabilities. Out of that number, 81,376 have jobs for a total employment rate of 30.7 percent. That percentage puts Arkansas at 43 out of all 50 states. However, the employment rate for people with disabilities in Arkansas is slowly trending upward. Between 2014 and 2015, 4,016 Arkansans with disabilities entered the workforce. Looking at RespectAbility’s 2016 Best and Worst States Report, Arkansas has risen in the ranking, up to 43rd in the nation from 45th last year.

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Doug Ducey Talks Civics Education and Students with Disabilities at NGA

Washington, Feb. 26 – At a special session of the National Governors Association’s Winter Meeting, Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona focused on the importance of civics education for all students, including children with disabilities. He introduced a video presentation from the Joe Foss Institute about the lack of civic knowledge and political engagement among young people today.

“It’s cute when a 5-year-old doesn’t know who the current president is,” Ducey said to the audience gathered at the NGA. “But when 10 percent of our college graduates believe that Judge Judy sits on the Supreme Court, it’s not that funny.”

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Kate Brown Celebrates Curb Cut Movement at NGA Winter Meeting

Washington, Feb. 26 – Speaking this weekend, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s focus was firmly on job opportunities for all Oregonians, including people with disabilities.

“We will be working hard to make sure that Oregon’s economy continues to thrive,” the Democratic governor said at this weekend’s National Governors Association Winter Meeting. “It’s about jobs; it’s about kids. It’s about making sure that Oregonians have the door of opportunity open for them.“

Responding to a question from RespectAbility’s reporting staff about workforce development, Brown immediately talked about curb cuts and social activism as a metaphor to talk about building an inclusive economy.

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Supreme Court Case Could Determine Education for Students with Disabilities

Washington, Jan. 13 – Earlier this week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a critical case for children with disabilities, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, one of the most important education cases in decades.

In 1975, Congress passed a federal law requiring school districts to provide a “free appropriate public education” for children with disabilities, which includes individualized education plan (IEP) for students to be included in public schools. The law also provided federal funds for these services. The act was renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1990. Unfortunately, IDEA has never been fully funded, leading to some school districts struggling to keep up.

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Polling Shows People with Disabilities Split Vote Between Trump and Clinton

Near unanimous bipartisan agreement that a candidate should treat people with disabilities with dignity and respect

Download the slide presentation with all poll data (PDF or accessible PPT).

Washington, Dec. 14 – Two separate bipartisan polls showed results that may surprise Washington insiders: voters with disabilities and their family and friends voted in big numbers for President-elect Donald Trump. While polls showed that many voters felt Trump made fun of people with disabilities, he was seen as stronger on changing Washington and failed economic policies that hold people with disabilities back.

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Disability Champion McMorris Rodgers Not Offered Cabinet Position

Washington, Dec. 13 – While earlier reports had said President-elect Donald Trump would be announcing five-term Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers as his choice for Secretary of the Interior, Politico has reported that the position has been offered to Montana’s freshman Rep. Ryan Zinke instead.

When asked by KING 5 whether she would accept a job in Trump administration, McMorris Rodgers had said, “I am interested in helping rethink this federal government. I’m focused on representing the people of eastern Washington, and we’ll see if anything happens.”

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Trump’s Pick to Head National Economic Council Openly Talks About His Dyslexia

Washington, Dec. 9 – News outlets are reporting that President-elect Donald Trump will name Goldman Sachs veteran, Gary Cohn, to head the National Economic Council, where he would have significant influence over the administration’s economic policy, including corporate taxes and U.S. trade policy.

Cohn, who has dyslexia, credits this disability with leading to many of his successes.  As a child growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, he was called an “idiot” by teachers and classmates. Yet Cohn graduated from both high school and college, something the majority of students with disabilities do not do. After graduation, he found a job in sales for U.S. Steel and later took a chance that led him to Wall Street.

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Trump’s Choice for Secretary of the Interior Has History of Disability Activism

Washington, Dec. 9 – According to multiple news reports, President-elect Donald Trump has announced his choice for Secretary of the Interior, five-term Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Currently the highest-ranking woman in Congress, McMorris Rodgers has been praised by the disability community for her strong history of advocating for the rights of people with disabilities, and RespectAbility congratulates the Congresswoman on her nomination.

McMorris Rodgers has been a strong proponent of measures to support people with disabilities, such as the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which allows people with disabilities to set up tax-free savings accounts, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which ensures access to education for children with disabilities.

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Trump’s New Labor Secretary Needs to Focus on Jobs for People with Disabilities

Washington, Dec. 8 – As news reports say President-elect Donald Trump is expected to nominate fast-food executive Andy Puzder as labor secretary, RespectAbility congratulates Puzder on the nomination but encourages both Trump and Puzder to include people with disabilities in their jobs programs.

An adviser and contributor to Trump’s campaign, Puzder is the chief executive of CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc., the parent company of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s burger chains, which employs more than 20,000 people.

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Colorado Voters Approve Controversial Assisted Suicide Law, Prompting Concern Among Disability Community

Washington, Nov. 13 – Colorado has joined five other states in allowing terminally ill people to end their lives with a physician’s assistance, despite protests from disability activist groups such as ADAPT and Not Dead Yet.

Last week, voters in Colorado approved the state’s Proposition 106, known as the “End of Life Options Act,” which will legalize assisted suicide, allowing doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally-ill patients who desire to end their lives. The ballot initiative passed overwhelmingly, with two-thirds of voters in support and just one-third opposed.

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Burr (NC-R), Hassan (NH-D), Van Hollen (MD-D) Highlighted Disability in Campaign TV Ads

Washington, Nov. 12 – Multiple winning Senate campaigns touted their work on disability issues in television ads as a new poll shows that addressing disability issues is a winning campaign strategy.

In the final days of the election season, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat who won the open U.S. Senate seat in Maryland, highlighted his work on the passage of the bipartisan Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) to Work Act, legislation that enables people with disabilities and their families to save money in special ABLE savings accounts without risking their eligibility for government benefits.

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Honoring All Veterans on Veterans Day: What are Trump’s policies for veterans with disabilities?

Washington, Nov. 11 – As the nation celebrates Veterans Day, it is important to truly remember our veterans and ensure we are taking care of their needs.

One of their top priorities is employment. Government policies that help veterans with disabilities get and keep jobs are a win-win because they allow veterans the dignity and financial benefits of work and also grow our economy and save taxpayer money.

One year ago, President Elect Donald Trump said, “I will” when asked if he is committed to getting more veterans and people with disabilities employed.

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Disability Champion Jim Langevin Wins Rhode Island Re-Election

Washington, Nov 11 – Rhode Island Rep. Jim Langevin, a Democratic member of congress for more than 20 years, won the re-election for Rhode Island’s 2nd congressional district, holding off Republican Rhue Reis.

Langevin completed the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire for the presidential, senate and gubernatorial candidates, that was written by RespectAbility, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. Reis did not respond to the questionnaire.

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Trump Cabinet Possibilities: Where is the Disability Representation?

Washington, Nov. 10 – RespectAbility has obtained an internal document from the Trump transition team titled “Trump Cabinet Possibilities.” We have been told the people listed below currently are being vetted for 22 key posts within the Trump administration.

Looking at the list, it is clear that few of the people have any experience in working with the disability community and none of them self-identify publicly as being people with disabilities themselves.

“Fully one-in-five Americans has a disability and the majority of Americans have a loved one with a disability,” RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi said. “It is vital for the Trump administration to reflect America, including talented people with disabilities. The administration needs people who have real, proven experience in enabling people with disabilities to receive the education and training they need to succeed in gaining jobs and independence.”

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Election Tuesday Shows Big Win for Medical Marijuana Legalization

Washington, Nov. 9 – Nine states voted on whether or not to legalize marijuana yesterday. Citizens in Florida, Montana, North Dakota and Arkansas voted on the use of marijuana for medical conditions, and these measures passed in all four of the states where it was on the ballot.

Voters in California, Nevada, Arizona, Massachusetts and Maine cast their ballots for whether those 21-years-old and older should be allowed to use marijuana recreationally. California, Massachusetts and Nevada voters approved marijuana for recreational use, while Arizona’s proposed measure was unsuccessful. Maine’s decision is still pending, though at the moment it appears that it may pass.

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Hassan, Advocate for People with Disabilities, Wins New Hampshire Senate Bid

Washington, Nov. 9 – In New Hampshire, Democrat Gov. Maggie Hassan beat Republican incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte for the Senate seat in one of the most closely watched and evenly matched races.

Hassan’s first ad told the story of her son Ben, who has cerebral palsy, is a wheelchair user and is nonverbal. As the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza pointed out, the ad “grounds Hassan’s reason for going into public service in her own life story.”

She praised all the families that came before hers “who made his inclusion possible.”

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